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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ezra Pound's poem "Poetic Eggs" is about being a poet and producing written works. Pound uses the metaphor of the hen laying eggs to describe what it's like to be a poet.

In the first of the poem's two stanzas, Pound writes,

I am a grave poetic hen
That lays poetic eggs
And to enhance my temperament
A little quiet begs (1–4).

Here, the speaker claims to be "a grave poetic hen." The metaphor begins by comparing the poet to a hen producing "poetic eggs," but Pound also uses the word "grave," which gives the hen's, or poet's, work a serious edge. The hen's "temperament" needs to be right to produce the eggs, and what he needs is "A little quiet."

In the second and final stanza, the speaker continues,

We make the yolk philosophy,
True beauty the albumen.
And then gum on a shell of form
To make the screed sound human (5–8).

This stanza describes the "egg" itself and how the hen shapes its creation. The poem includes "philosophy" and "True beauty," figuratively represented here by the "yolk" and "albumen" (white) of the egg, respectively. The eggshell is also "a shell of form," or the structure, organization, and writing style of the poem. These ingredients are necessary "To make the screed sound human." This implies that the poem is not naturally going to sound human, but its insights must be shaped in such a way to present it to a human audience.

The poem as a whole is an extended metaphor wherein the poet is compared to a hen laying eggs—or poems. The speaker comments on the process of making poetry and shaping it to appeal to an audience.